By Spondylitis Association of America
In March of this year, the SAA had the opportunity to exhibit at a medical conference for Primary Care Physicians (PCPs). The PriMed West Annual Conference took place in Anaheim, CA with over 7,300 Primary Care Physicians and other medical professionals in attendance. As this was our first time exhibiting for this population we weren't sure how we would be received. How much interest would there be in speaking with us? How do we grab their attention with the many competing disease states PCPs must screen for and diagnose? We designed new display banners, we created new ankylosing spondylitis screening brochures for PCPs, and we streamlined our message: "Has your Patient had Back Pain for More Than 3 Months? It could be Spondylitis." And it worked.
"How do I diagnose this?"
"Is there a screening test?"
"Iritis is one of the signs? Hmm..."
We discussed blood work and that sometimes it can be normal, HLA-B27 and how it's not a diagnostic test, important signs and symptoms, patient and family history, the delay in seeing x-ray changes, other areas affected in addition to the spine, and the importance of referring to a rheumatologist at the suspicion of spondyloarthritis.
By the end of our two day exhibiting experience we had given away nearly all of our screening and educational brochures, every single Spondylitis Plus, all of our diagnostic criteria flyers, and were exhilarated to be reaching so many doctors.
"How do I treat it?"
"I have a patient who may have this!"
"I didn't know there was an association for this."
While the majority of those we spoke with had never diagnosed or even seen anyone with spondylitis and wanted screening information, there were also those who were currently treating patients with AS.
"Can I refer my AS patients to you?"
"I have two AS patients and wanted to see if you had anything for them."
"How do I diagnose it?"
And then there was, "Thank you for being here. There's a patient I have to call. I think she has this." We were delighted to learn that among the conference sessions available to attendees were two that discussed Spondyloarthritis.
There was an "Approach to Rheumatologic Diagnosis" session, and also a "Recognizing Inflammatory Back Pain" session, which was actually a ticketed event and one that proved popular enough to sell out quickly.
"I didn't realize there was a juvenile form of Spondylitis..." "How do I diagnose it?"
"Oh yes SPONDYLOSIS, it's important to know about..."
"Obviously I only see women so this isn't for me..."
Perhaps the most apt quote of the event was when a Primary Care doctor saw our booth right after leaving the Inflammatory Back Pain talk and approached us saying, "Wow. This is really big this year."
Indeed, doctor. As it should be every year.
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